Tag Archive | romantic suspense

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 4

Deacon went on in some detail watching Dino’s smile suddenly fade rapidly. Turning around, he saw a petite, auburn haired woman glaring up at him. She held three or four large bags, which she dropped almost on Deacon’s feet.

Dino’s smile was artificial, his tan turned a few shades lighter. “Deacon Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to our lighting designer,” he gulped. “Hillary Du Champs.”

Deacon held out his hand, taking his cap off his head. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Du Champs.”

She glared at him and didn’t take his proffered hand. “Don’t mind me,” she said with a strong Australian accent, “I’m just a little, old French lady with a bad accent!”

Deacon sighed, realizing he had put his foot in deeply this time. As penance, he picked up three of the bags, Ms. Du Champs snatched the smallest off the floor before he could touch it.

“Who’s the flunky?” she directed impolitely at Dino.

She walked ahead of Deacon, beside Dino who shortened his stride to compensate for her lack of stature. She couldn’t be much over five feet tall, Deacon thought. He’d never gotten along well with little women. They tended to be bossy and arrogant, with something to prove.

Deacon was around six foot three and lanky of build. His dark blond hair was curly, unruly and a constant source of aggravation to him. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark eyelashes, giving him a sleepy look. In high school, he’d been mistakenly accused of being stoned more often than he could count.

In an act of defiance of his military foster father, he’d gotten plugs in his ears and an eyebrow pierced. Several tattoos decorated his arms and another on his right buttock, a challenge from a college roommate, one night when they were too drunk to give a shit. He was sure he presented a bedraggled figure to the compact, attractive and well groomed woman ahead of him. Not quite the picture of a well qualified professional man.

He noted, absently, that she had a great figure and a nice, tight ass, which distracted him so much, he nearly ran into the door jam as the automatic door slid open. He set the bags down as they waited for the elevator, and looked down at Hillary.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t realize you were there.”

“And that makes it all right to insult me, as I can’t hear you? You’re an uneducated buffoon, Mr. Whatever. I hope to have as little contact with you as possible. So just do your job, tote the bags and don’t talk to me!”

Deacon’s temper nearly got the better of him, but the elevator arrived, giving them a few moments of struggle as they pulled her bags on board. Dino hit the button for the parking garage.

Getting to the car, Dino opened the back, and Deacon loaded the bags into the luggage space. He tried to open the door for Ms. Du Champs, but she walked pointedly away from him. He slid in the front seat himself, shutting the door in her face.

“Now see here,” she reprimanded him. “Since when does the flunky sit in the front seat and the professional woman sit in the back seat with the cooler?”

Deacon rolled his eyes in her direction, giving her a scathing look before lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, resuming his relaxed travel position. “Since the flunky is the technical director of the theater, and the professional woman is being a snooty bitch.” He said firmly, fastening his seat belt with an abrupt snap.

“Well, that’s some nerve!” She climbed into the back seat, slamming the door louder than was necessary. She muttered incoherently as she fastened her belt and situated herself.

Dino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” she griped at him now, letting Deacon off the hook, for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

Deacon turned up the CD player, now playing his favorite Kenny Wayne Shepherd song, Electric Lullaby. He liked the guitarist’s smooth, jazzy blues. It was relaxing, something he needed just then.

Ms. Du Champs complained about that, too, so he turned it up some more to drown her out. Dino looked as if he were trying to set a speed record to get home. After a while, Ms. Du Champs decided that bitching was only making him drive faster. She sat back, lips clamped tightly together and made the best of things. When they’d arrived, Deacon got out of the car and walked into the guest house without offering to get Ms. Du Champs’ bags from the back, leaving that dubious honor to Dino.

He walked to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of imported Lager, and sat down in front of the TV. Commotion at the door caused him to rise. Walking over, he opened it to see a red faced Dino on the doorstep, bags in hand.

“Move! I think I’m getting a hernia!” he wheezed, shoving by Deacon and dropping the bags on the floor.

“She’s not moving in here, is she?” Deacon was horrified.

Dino’s plaintive look told Deacon the frightening truth.

“Jesus, Dino, she’s a menace! What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that it’s a big house, and the two of you could share, at least for now.” He looked pained. “I’m sorry, Deacon, I honestly had no idea….”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 4

Deacon went on in some detail watching Dino’s smile suddenly fade rapidly. Turning around, he saw a petite, auburn haired woman glaring up at him. She held three or four large bags, which she dropped almost on Deacon’s feet.

Dino’s smile was artificial, his tan turned a few shades lighter. “Deacon Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to our lighting designer,” he gulped. “Hillary Du Champs.”

Deacon held out his hand, taking his cap off his head. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Du Champs.”

She glared at him and didn’t take his proffered hand. “Don’t mind me,” she said with a strong Australian accent, “I’m just a little, old French lady with a bad accent!”

Deacon sighed, realizing he had put his foot in deeply this time. As penance, he picked up three of the bags, Ms. Du Champs snatched the smallest off the floor before he could touch it.

“Who’s the flunky?” she directed impolitely at Dino.

She walked ahead of Deacon, beside Dino who shortened his stride to compensate for her lack of stature. She couldn’t be much over five feet tall, Deacon thought. He’d never gotten along well with little women. They tended to be bossy and arrogant, with something to prove.

Deacon was around six foot three and lanky of build. His dark blond hair was curly, unruly and a constant source of aggravation to him. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark eyelashes, giving him a sleepy look. In high school, he’d been mistakenly accused of being stoned more often than he could count.

In an act of defiance of his military foster father, he’d gotten plugs in his ears and an eyebrow pierced. Several tattoos decorated his arms and another on his right buttock, a challenge from a college roommate, one night when they were too drunk to give a shit. He was sure he presented a bedraggled figure to the compact, attractive and well groomed woman ahead of him. Not quite the picture of a well qualified professional man.

He noted, absently, that she had a great figure and a nice, tight ass, which distracted him so much, he nearly ran into the door jam as the automatic door slid open. He set the bags down as they waited for the elevator, and looked down at Hillary.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t realize you were there.”

“And that makes it all right to insult me, as I can’t hear you? You’re an uneducated buffoon, Mr. Whatever. I hope to have as little contact with you as possible. So just do your job, tote the bags and don’t talk to me!”

Deacon’s temper nearly got the better of him, but the elevator arrived, giving them a few moments of struggle as they pulled her bags on board. Dino hit the button for the parking garage.

Getting to the car, Dino opened the back, and Deacon loaded the bags into the luggage space. He tried to open the door for Ms. Du Champs, but she walked pointedly away from him. He slid in the front seat himself, shutting the door in her face.

“Now see here,” she reprimanded him. “Since when does the flunky sit in the front seat and the professional woman sit in the back seat with the cooler?”

Deacon rolled his eyes in her direction, giving her a scathing look before lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, resuming his relaxed travel position. “Since the flunky is the technical director of the theater, and the professional woman is being a snooty bitch.” He said firmly, fastening his seat belt with an abrupt snap.

“Well, that’s some nerve!” She climbed into the back seat, slamming the door louder than was necessary. She muttered incoherently as she fastened her belt and situated herself.

Dino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” she griped at him now, letting Deacon off the hook, for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

Deacon turned up the CD player, now playing his favorite Kenny Wayne Shepherd song, Electric Lullaby. He liked the guitarist’s smooth, jazzy blues. It was relaxing, something he needed just then.

Ms. Du Champs complained about that, too, so he turned it up some more to drown her out. Dino looked as if he were trying to set a speed record to get home. After a while, Ms. Du Champs decided that bitching was only making him drive faster. She sat back, lips clamped tightly together and made the best of things. When they’d arrived, Deacon got out of the car and walked into the guest house without offering to get Ms. Du Champs’ bags from the back, leaving that dubious honor to Dino.

He walked to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of imported Lager, and sat down in front of the TV. Commotion at the door caused him to rise. Walking over, he opened it to see a red faced Dino on the doorstep, bags in hand.

“Move! I think I’m getting a hernia!” he wheezed, shoving by Deacon and dropping the bags on the floor.

“She’s not moving in here, is she?” Deacon was horrified.

Dino’s plaintive look told Deacon the frightening truth.

“Jesus, Dino, she’s a menace! What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that it’s a big house, and the two of you could share, at least for now.” He looked pained. “I’m sorry, Deacon, I honestly had no idea….”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 3

Deacon popped the can open and set it in the cup holder between the seats. Before opening his own, he held it against his forehead, letting the condensed water on the outside pool on his forehead and run down his nose.

“You okay, Deac?”

“Yeah, just looking over everything that has to be done. It’s a hell of a job, Dino. I’m not sure we’ll make opening. Are you sure you want to try for that?”

“Well, it’s keeping in the whole rebuilding the theater thing, Deacon. That was the original show date six years ago. I’d like to keep to that. We can get more men, got to be plenty of out of work construction people around.”

“We need some experienced set painters, lighting and sound techs. Construction guys can’t do that. They’ll do fine with the actual construction, but not the decoration.”

“I’ve got a deal with the local college. They’ll be sending over their junior and senior students, who need some practical experience. They are working for a minimal stipend, and the glitz on their resumes.” He flashed a five star smile.

Dino would spend money like water, but if he could get something cheap, he took it. Deacon laughed. The alternative wasn’t pretty. He didn’t want an argument with his new boss.

“Okay, so you have me a tech crew of green kids, a set crew of construction workers and a professional lighting designer. Is this another case of sympathy, or did you really snag some talent this time?”

Dino chuckled, checking his mirrors before merging onto I-95 South. “Just wait, you’ll be surprised.”

“Is it someone I know?”

“I doubt it. Been in the field quite a while, done some work with Theater Works and the like. Just looking for a change of scene I guess. Florida does have some small appeal, after all.”

Dino was being cagey and wanted to surprise Deacon, causing a shiver of apprehension to run down his spine. Anytime anyone had ever said to him, you’ll be surprised, he usually was, and unpleasantly.

Tipping his Metallica hat over his eyes, Deacon leaned back, folding his hands on his broad chest to rest for the remainder of the trip. He didn’t really like the way Dino drove, and the less he saw of the actual trip to the Orlando airport at rush hour, the better he felt. Dino didn’t seem to mind, just turned up his music and sang along.

He had decent taste in music, anyway and not a bad voice. Soon, Deacon was falling asleep with the eerie lyrics of Bodies Like Sheep by A Perfect Circle, fluttering around in his mind. Go back to sleep, go back to sleep….

He dozed without dreaming, waking when he felt the car come to a lurching stop outside a restaurant. It was one of the many Dino owned, a casual place which wouldn’t mind the fact that Deacon wasn’t dressed for a night on the town. He got the impression his new boss didn’t want to drag his grubby ass to the nicer spots. Deacon didn’t care, to be honest. He didn’t like fancy places, and wasn’t comfortable in them.

They were led to the best table in the house and relaxed, listening to the band. Dino always had live music, and gave local bands a chance. Several had gotten recording contracts because of his sponsorship. This band didn’t really suit Deacon’s taste, being of the hard core genre. It wasn’t exactly good dinner music, but since the meal was free, he wasn’t arguing. He ordered a Philly Steak platter and a Coke, in deference to his employer. He’d rather have had a beer, but didn’t think it was polite. He could wait until he got home, and pop open a few. He intended to spend another night in front of the TV in Dino’s well appointed guest house. The fridge was constantly restocked, by some unseen worker, with the best beers in the world. He could have whatever he wanted and more magically appeared.

The band switched to some mellower music as the dinner crowd dribbled in around six. He and Dino sat around, talking, making plans. At seven o’clock, they left the restaurant and drove to the airport. Dino found a spot to park in the large parking garage and slid into it, barely missing the Mercedes on his left and the minivan on his right.

The the two men went to the luggage pick up and waited for the lighting designer. Deacon looked around at the long room blankly. He hated airports, and he detested waiting for people in them.

“Want to give me a description, so I can help look?”

“Not to worry, I’ll know.”

“Mind telling me the name?”

Dino looked at his watch, checked the arrival board and started down the long expanse of luggage pick up.

“Wouldn’t you know, the last one on this end? Isn’t it always like that?”

“The name, Dino?” He wasn’t so much curious as he was just annoyed with the secrecy.

Dino chuckled, enjoying Deacon’s frustration too much. “I guess it’s fine to tell you now. I was able to get Hillary K. Du Champs.”

The name was not unknown to Deacon, he had heard it often enough in theater circles up north.

“Hillary Du Champs? Sounds like a little, old French lady with a bad accent.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 2

Deacon shuddered again, this time from cold. It was about forty degrees in there. Even with his heavy pants, boots and sweater, he was chilly. It was colder back home, but there was something to be said about the difference in humidity. He had located the heating and air conditioning unit, and had someone work on it; weekend overtime, he sighed. He was competent with a lot of things, but he wasn’t secure with electricity. He left that to the experts.

He found a light switch, flicked it on and the dressing room blazed with dozens of light bulbs. There were cobwebs in the wigs which had been left out on the counter. Boxes of theater makeup were open and about a ton of dust covered the tubes. The floor was also thick with sand drifting in through the cracks in the walls and foundation, around windows and under doors. It was a petrified wasteland.

I’m never gonna get this ready in time. Some low stress.

He was going to end up half killing himself on late nights and early mornings. At least coffee was cheaper than cocaine, and caffeine wouldn’t bring on a psychotic episode. He had to thank heaven for his blessings, no matter how small.

The opening play Dino had chosen to present was the ill fated show which had been slated to go up six years ago. It was a who-done-it spoof called Any Number Can Die. The set was already designed and partially built. Deacon had to see how much of the lumber, canvas and paint needed replacing. He didn’t hold out much hope of salvaging anything. Florida weather was pretty harsh on building materials, even if they were under cover. What the heat and humidity hadn’t destroyed, he was afraid the bugs had.

Sunday, was scheduled for stage clean up. La Petite Theater Society, who had been the backbone of the theater in the old days, had volunteered to come in and clear the stage and dressing rooms so that auditions could commence on Monday.

Deacon thought that having the technicians and construction people there, at the same time actors were going to be wandering about, was a serious judgment error. Dino insisted, he wanted the cast to get the feel for their environment. Deacon wasn’t in a position to argue, so he said what he thought, and closed his mouth. He’d learned the futility of arguing with directors a long time ago.

Making a mental list of all the tasks to be done, he decided that was not only pointless, it was foolish. Surely there would be paper in the office. He never went anywhere without a pen and pencil, but paper wasn’t included in his pocket inventory. This particular implement was left from a set Frieda had given him on their first anniversary. He used it, hoping it would run out of ink so he would have the excuse to throw it away. Unlike their relationship, it kept going interminably.

The office was locked, but he had a huge ring of keys Dino had given him. Each was carefully marked. Choosing the one marked technical director, he opened the door and searched until he found a stack of typing paper. He sat in the rather dubious chair, that looked like it was WW II Army surplus, and started his list. Each entry sparked a new idea and soon he had three handwritten pages. His printing was precise, having drawn set designs for so many years. He was getting a cramp in his left hand and put his pen down to massage it thoughtfully.

The phone next to his elbow rang, startling him so much, he jumped away as if it were a snake. Tentatively, he picked it up and spoke softly, the sound of his own voice echoing in the silent building, making him think he was waking old ghosts.

“Seaside Little Theater, may I help you?”

Dino’s familiar baritone shout greeted him. He was the singularly loudest man Deacon had ever met. He meant well and was sparing no expense getting the place up and running. He could afford it, being the third richest man in the entire state.

“Deac! How are you! They got the phone connected, that’s super! Did you get the power on?”

“Yeah, I found the breaker switches about thirty minutes ago. The heat’s on and warming up nicely in here.”

“Excellent! Listen, why don’t you call it a day, for now. You can’t do any of the cleanup solo. Besides, I have to pick up the lighting designer in Orlando. You fancy a drive down? I hate making that trip alone. The company would be welcome. We’ll catch dinner downtown and head to the airport. The plane is in around seven forty-five.”

“Sure, sounds good. I’ll lock up and turn off the lights and see you when you get here.”

Deacon hung up and made the rounds checking doors, windows and lights, bidding a goodnight to the ghosts. He shut and locked the front door behind him, just as Dino drove up in his bright yellow SUV.

Hopping into the front seat, Deacon stretched out his long legs, relaxing in the luxury of the dark leather interior. Dino spared no expense on anything he owned. This was maxed out, complete with a DVD player and video game hook up in the back. Not that Dino had any kids, he just wanted the whole package, and paid cash for it. They threw in spinners, mud flaps, and chrome wheel rims for free.

“There’s some drinks in the back, grab one. You must be thirsty after being in all that dust.”

Dino was fastidious, but didn’t even blink at all the dust and cobwebs Deacon dragged into his car. He’d pay someone to clean it out later.

There was an electric cooler in the back. Deacon reached into it, finding a selection of soft drinks. Dino was a recovering alcoholic, he had nothing stronger than root beer. Grabbing a Coke, he asked Dino what he’d have.

“Vanilla Coke, thanks.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 1

In the semi-dark of the old building, its musty smell strong in his nostrils, Deacon Stewart shuddered away the story that the place was haunted. Theater people tended to be somewhat superstitious and melodramatic, creating tales of deaths in the theater, accidents which befell the unwary and unbelievers. Anything from decapitation by a piece of falling scenery, to suicide pacts between love struck actors and actresses. Deacon made his way carefully through the clutter of the back storage room carrying a flashlight. The main circuit breaker had to be here somewhere. The power had been turned on the day before, and he still couldn’t find the damn breaker box in the cold darkness.

What made the stories stronger and more alarming, in this case, some of them were true. There were documented deaths associated with this place. Nothing sensational, just a few freaky accidents that had caused it to be shut down about six years ago.

One such accident was that involving an electrician who was hanging lights. He had a Leko in need of repairs already on the baton. He should have brought it down to fix it, but instead had simply unplugged it, leaving the cable hanging near the ladder. Someone had come along, not realizing what he was doing up on the ladder and plugged it in. Instant, crispy fried techie.

That was the most recent in a long history of such incidents. The theater closed the same day, and had not reopened until Deacon Stewart was hired to run it for the winter snowbird season, in a small, seaside town in Florida.

Having finally located the circuit breakers behind a pile of empty boxes, he examined the panel, the wires, and the immediate area carefully before hitting the main switch. Without a spark, the panel clicked and the dim backstage lights came on, glimmering merrily, teasing him with their cheerfulness.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he took off the protective rubber gloves he wore, thanking God for a small favor. This was one thing, at least, that did not require his immediate attention. He couldn’t say the same thing for the rest of the place. They’d brought in an exterminator to rid them of the carpenter ants and palmetto bugs infesting the attic and walls of the old wooden structure. Once the fumes cleared, the renovations started, beginning with the power being restored.

The building itself dated back to the early forties when the area was used by the military. It looked every bit its age. It needed a major overhaul if it was to be ready on time for its grand re-opening on January Twenty-seventh. Deacon hoped he could find competent people to help him. He had taken the job mostly because it was supposed to be a low stress environment. The doctors had told him he had to avoid stress. Being lead designer in a major theater scenery company in New York City, wasn’t conducive to low stress levels.

After an episode, as it was so tactfully diagnosed by the psychiatrists, he had been put on forced leave of absence, and told to get his shit together before coming back to work. They couldn’t fire him, he was part owner of the company, but they could make him take a vacation.

The episode was brought on by a combination of stress and cocaine, not a period of his life that he was proud of. Also adding to the problem was the recent break up with his long time girlfriend, Frieda Massey. She was an actress who worked mostly off-off Broadway; second rate at best. She had finally landed a good job as a minor character on a new sitcom filming in LA. She hadn’t hesitated to take the job, and flew out of his life, as if he never existed.

Two weeks later, he’d gone wild in the shop, shooting the nail gun into a piece of plywood, screaming and crying hysterically. Then he tried to kill himself with the radial arm saw. He’d intended to cut his own head off, but that wasn’t a terribly easy thing to accomplish. Some fast thinking tech pulled the plug on the saw before he even had his head all the way on the table. Several months and extensive therapy later, the episode behind him, he was told by his two partners he needed a break.

“Go south, young man,” Bernie said. “Florida is nice this time of year. Not too cold, not too hot. I have a friend who owns a small place down there, he’s looking for a Technical Director to open it back up. I put a word in for you. You’re hired.”

Deacon’s protests were ignored. Bernie helped him pack. Maxine, Bernie’s wife, and the other partner, drove him to the airport. If she could have put him on the plane personally, she would have. She stayed by the security gate until his plane took off. He arrived in Orlando three hours later and was picked up by Bernie’s friend Dino.

Dino’s parents must have had a sick sense of humor. Their last name was Sawyer. Despite growing up a living parody, he was a nice guy. Big, blond, darkly tanned, he had inherited the theater from his great uncle. Having always loved acting and directing, he decided to open the theater for the winter season. It was Deacon’s job to whip it into shape.

“I’ve hired a crew to come in starting early Monday morning. Bunch of guys I know who work construction. Not too many jobs in the winter, even here, so they agreed eagerly.”

Today was Saturday, and Deacon had come in late Thursday afternoon, to find the tents just being taken off the building. They left it open to air out all day Friday, and the power was turned on by three o’clock. It took hours to find the circuit breakers in the dim recesses of the building. Having very few windows, all of which were filthy, Deacon could hardly see, even with a high powered flashlight.

Scenery and building supplies littered the entire backstage area. All the supplies had been delivered for the show when the electrician died. Pieces of set were already in place, one dark spot on the floor bore grim testimony to his untimely passing.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 38

At school the next day, Janet can hardly concentrate. She realizes she forgot her lunch, but Diego assures her that’s all right.

Diego drove them to McDonald’s, with Bunny and Ramona. They ate in the car on the way back to school. Enjoying the late summer sunshine, the four of them sat in the courtyard until the bell rang ending lunch. Diego walked her to class.

“See you in chorus.” He gave her a quick kiss.

“Do you have to work tonight?”

“Nope. You?”

“I begged off the entire weekend.”

“Me too. Whatever will we do with all that free time?” He nipped her ear with his teeth. “I need to go.”

He jogged away, blowing her a kiss. Janet walked into drama class in a much better frame of mind than she’d been in yesterday. Trina sat next to her at the table, scooting close.

“So, tell me?”

“Tell you what?” Janet replied innocently.

“You know. I’ve seen that look before.”

“What look?”

“Complete satisfaction. On my own face a few times,” she added quietly as he bell rang. “Was it wonderful?”

“Oh, Trina! Yes, it was!” Janet whispered happily.

“Good. I’d hate to have to break his legs.”

Janet giggled, hugging her friend.

Class went well and chorus to follow, was a lot of fun. They practiced their parts for the Roberta Flack song, jazzing it up as necessary. Once school was over, they headed back to her house as fast as they could, and were in bed right away.

Stopping for dinner, they ate sandwiches, leaving the washing up for another time. It felt so right to be together. Scandalous and a little wrong, but good. Janet knew that it couldn’t last. There wouldn’t be anymore weekends like this, but she was glad they had this one. It was beautiful, perfect.

Saturday night, she fell asleep in Diego’s arms, knowing her parents would be home the next day. This was their last night together. Reality would hit tomorrow, but for now, life was perfect.

Janet’s family moved a week later. She said tearful goodbyes, but really she found it a relief. She loved her family, but Sookie and her mother had caused her so much grief over the last few years, it was nice to have them gone. She settled in with her aunt, uncle and cousin Madelyn. She and Maddie were mere days apart in age. Growing up more like sisters, they got along well. Things were more relaxed and normal in Maddie’s house, and Janet loved it there.

Diego was welcomed like an honored guest, the first time he came over for dinner. Later, he became a part of the family. Uncle Buck, who had no son, took him fishing and camping. It made Janet happy to see them get so close.

The chorus competition approached at light speed. Janet could hardly believe it. The competition was out of town in Lincoln, Nebraska. They were the final group to perform that day, so she had all day to worry about her solo.

Many of the choirs were exceptional, but none of them did anything like their group had planned. They grew more excited as their time approached. It was partly nerves and partly the knowledge that what they were about to attempt would blow the judges away.

Finally, they lined up and took their places on the risers behind the royal blue curtain. They were announced and the curtain rose. The three girls stood together near the microphone. Janet had her pitch in her mind, repeating it over and over to make sure she had it right.

Still in the dark, her voice cut through the darkness. “Strumming my pain with his fingers, Singing my life with his words….”

When she got to the last line, the entire chorus came in with harmony and accompaniment. The lights came up slowly as she and the others sang. The spotlight shown brightly in her eyes, keeping her from seeing the audience. She was just as glad, she could pretend they didn’t exist if she couldn’t see them.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 36

The bad news delivered, Janet wants to leave. She asks Diego to take her to Taco Village for dinner.

“I had a feeling you’d be coming,” she said. “Call me crazy, I knew to fix a special platter of chicken enchiladas just the way you two like them.”

She presented them with a steaming plate of food. Thanking her, they took forks and started eating from opposite sides. When they were done, his aunt came to clear their plate. She sat down across the table from Janet, taking her hand.

“You look so lost, cariña. What’s wrong?”

Janet told her, trying hard not to cry. Diego’s aunt smothered her in hugs. His female cousins took her to the restroom to freshen up. His aunt stayed to talk to him.

“So, they’re getting back together?” She made a disgusted noise. “I didn’t think that would ever happen. In a way, I’m happy. Ilene’s been alone too long. But to take that girl from all she holds dear. It’s so unfair.”

Diego nodded, gulping. “I don’t want to lose her, Auntie. But what can I do? I can’t marry her yet. What kind of life could we have? We’d have to live with my parents and we might not make it to college. School’s important to Janet.”

Que sera sera,” she said.

“Don’t go quoting song lyrics, auntie.”

“Not meaning to, Diego. I’m really saying, what will be, will be. You can’t change what’s meant to be. If you’re meant to be together for life, it will happen. But if your lives take you different paths, you follow where it leads you.”

“I’ll try,” he said. “But if it takes me away from Janet….”

“I know. I’ll say special prayers. You take your girl somewhere to make her happy.” She kissed his cheek and pressed money in his hand.

Diego didn’t need the money, but she wouldn’t take it back. Thanking her, he took Janet outside.

“Where do you want to go?”

“I want to go play pool.”

He laughed loudly. “Okay. But we’ll go to my house. I’m not taking you to the bowling ally or the pool hall.”

“Fine.”

Diego took her face in his hands. “I love you,” he said in Spanish, knowing Janet was fluent. “That won’t change, no matter where life takes us.”

“I’ll always love you, Diego. Until my dying day.”

They went to his house and played pool far later than they usually stayed up on a school night. His parents, knowing the situation, didn’t argue or fuss.

“That girl’s got a lot to deal with,” his mother said to his father. “She needs this time with Diego.”

Her husband nodded. He was a man of few words, but that didn’t stop him from disagreeing with her if he thought she was wrong. This particular time, he knew she wasn’t. At 10:00, he told Diego to take Janet home.

Sitting in her driveway, Diego didn’t know if he should talk or kiss her. She solved that problem by kissing him—long and slow and deep.

“This weekend, when my parents are gone, I want you to stay with me.”

“Janet!”

“Don’t you dare argue with me, Diego Hernandez! I want you to stay here and make love to me. I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what they say. They could change their minds at the last minute, and make me move too. I’m not going to miss out on the one thing I want most, just because of them.”

“Are you really sure?”

“Positive. Will you?”

He nodded, kissing her. “I promise.

The rest of the week went by in a slow blur for Janet. The only moments that were clear to her were the ones that included Diego. Somewhere during that week, her mother took her to the doctor to get on the pill. She endured the humiliating exam without protest. This was simply another step toward getting what she wanted.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 32

Janet chats with Ramona, then goes to her house to collect Sookie. Carlos gives them a ride home.

Janet’s parents waited for them in the living room. Her father introduced himself to Sookie.

“It smells good in here. Did you cook, Mom?”

Evander laughed. “Could be. And it will be ready soon. Go wash up.”

Sookie and Janet went to wash up in the bathroom. When they came out, the parents were kissing.

Sookie groaned. “Oh, please,” she moaned. “First Janet and Diego, now you?”

Evander laughed loudly. “Little Bit, you’ll keep me on my best behavior.”

They had a pleasant dinner. Afterward, the girls cleaned up and Sookie had her bath. She and Janet moved her things downstairs and they both did their homework. Janet had never felt so close to her little sister. Usually, they were at odds, but today, she was very happy.

Sookie fell asleep, curled on her side, facing the yellow bedroom wall. Janet stayed awake until midnight, thinking about the future, making plans. She intended to make it clear she wasn’t leaving—at least not now.

Waking up wasn’t easy, but a wiggling ten year old made it impossible to ignore. Janet dragged herself to the bathroom and had a quick shower. Sookie and Evander were laughing at the breakfast table. They shushed each other, giggling and winking when Janet arrived.

“I smell a secret,” Janet said as she poured coffee.

“Our secret, right, Little Bit?”

“Yup!” Sookie giggled behind her hand.

Janet was ready when Diego arrived. He came up to the door and Evander opened it.

“Nice to see you again,” he said with a wide grin. “You gonna be a fixture?”

“Plan on it,” Diego replied, shaking the proffered hand.

“Good. You make my daughter smile.” He kissed Janet’s cheek. “See you after school?”

“I work right after.”

“Take the day off.”

“Dad, I really can’t.”

“We need time together, Pumpkin. Please?”

“Ask Mom to call. They won’t believe I need the time, otherwise.”

He nodded. “Will do.”

Janet worried all day about talking to her father. Not even lunch and class with Diego, could snap her out of her daze.

He drove her to the park on the way home, stopping the car. “Talk to me.”

“I need to get home….”

“We’ll talk first. I can’t help if you don’t tell me. I know you’re worried.”

“What if he tells me we’re leaving? What if he says I can never be with you again? I would totally die.”

“Janet, it will work out. You have to believe that.” He took her hands in his. “I’d marry you, just to keep you here. But we’re way too young to get married.”

She nodded, tears bursting from her eyes. “I love you so much. I want to be with you forever.”

“Me too.”

“If they decide we’re moving…. You have to find a way for us to be together.”

“Together? Um…together.”

“Does that scare you?” She raised her chin definitely.

“No! Oh, hell no. Just not the circumstances I expected.”

“If I have to leave, I’m not going unless we can be together. I want you to be my first. Swear to me you’ll find a way. Promise.”

“I—promise. But we don’t know for certain….”

“I don’t care. I’ve made up my mind. Even if we don’t move right away. I want to be with you.”

“Okay, babe. I promise.”

He drove her home and her father was waiting. Diego walked her to the porch. He kissed her cheek and left.

“You okay?” Evander asked.

She nodded, then shook her head. “Where’s Sookie.”

“With Mom. We’re going for a ride.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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The First Day, First Paragraph

rami-ungar-first-day-first-paragraph-tagMy good pal, and fellow author, Rami Ungar came up with this idea and tagged me. The process is simple. When tagged, you publish the first paragraph of something you’re working on, follow the instructions below, and have fun with it! Thank you, Rami, for thinking of me! ~ Dellani

So if you get this tag, here’s what you have to do:

  1. Publish your own post on the first day of the month.

  2. Use the graphic above.

  3. Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.

  4. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.

  5. Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.

  6. Ask your readers for feedback.

  7. Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of August, the person you tag has to do it on the first of September), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.

it-takes-a-thief-coverMy first paragraph is from my novel, It Takes a Thief – a romantic suspense novel available in e-book format on Amazon.

Jason Banes was a thief. Despite how much he and his lawyer might publicly deny it, it was the truth. Which was why he was standing before the judge in an ill-fitting suit, sweating. A twist of fate had brought him to this. He was an excellent thief, masterful, skilled, almost magical in his ability to divide his marks from their possessions. Regardless of his skill, he’d been caught. His palms began to perspire as the judge looked over the top of her pearl studded reading glasses. She didn’t look happy. Jason saw his world collapse as she studied him. Her scrutiny made him nervous. She looked like a velociraptor ready to attack and rip his guts out with her long, sharp claws. She blinked.

I welcome your comments below!

I tag Rachel Rueben

2016 A Good Year for Writing

Dellani Oakes with glasses2016 stunk in a lot of ways, not the least of which were all the deaths, both famous and not. Too many taken from us too soon. There was one respect in which 2016 was kind of all right. It’s a very personal way, not something that means much to anyone but me.

For several years, I’ve made a resolution to finish a book a month. This doesn’t mean that I start and finish the book in the same 30 day period (though I do that, too). This means that I take a book I’ve been working for awhile, maybe years, and I complete it. I’ve been making this same resolution for three years now, and I’ve just made it again. I don’t always meet this goal, but I feel that if I make a concerted effort and write constantly, I’m progressing well. Of course, the new goal becomes getting them publication ready—a longer and more complicated project. (And, let’s face it, a lot less fun)

In 2016, I managed to finish fourteen books! That’s better than one a month. There were a few months I didn’t complete something, but others where I did two or more. Please keep in mind, unless it states short story or novella, these are all books 50,000+ words. That includes the ones written in 5 – 10 days.

This years list includes:

January – Author of Love

February – Tarrah (a short story)

March – As yet untitled novella

April – Ranger’s Heart & When Tis Done

May – none finished as I was editing Room 103 for publication

June – How Far is Heaven, Sierra and Food Truck Hero (which was written in 6 days)

July – Raven Willoughby: Origins, Beach Bum, Alton & Velda and Game Junkies

August – He Needed Killin’ (written in 9 days)

September – none finished

October – none finished

November – So Much It Hurts (2016 NaNo, completed in 5 days)

December – none finished

Overall, not a bad year, though I did better in 2015 (25 books), but I consider anything 12 and over, a win. I finished 14 books in 2014 as well. Though I didn’t finish any books every month of the year, I started 4 new ones. I couldn’t seem to make up my mind how to finish them, but it gives me a goal for this year. Challenge accepted!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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